By Ashley Pitman, MindBodyGreen
The way you start each day is incredibly important. Whether you’re a mom, a coach, a writer, a small business owner, or a yoga teacher, what you do first thing in the morning matters.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down.
Ayurveda invites us to get a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature’s rhythms, balance the doshas, and foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline.
Your mind may say you have to check emails, take the dog out, get the kids out the door, that you can’t be late for work, or that you just don’t have enough time to cultivate your own morning rituals.
But, if you can only make time for one ritual that will improve your health, let it be this:
Start the day out with a mug of warm water and the juice of half a lemon.
It’s so simple, and the benefits are just too good to ignore. Warm water with lemon:
1. Boosts your immune system
Lemons are high in vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C is great for fighting colds, and potassium stimulates brain and nerve function and helps control blood pressure.
2. Balances pH
Lemons are an incredibly alkaline food, believe it or not. Yes, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). As you wellness warriors know, an alkaline body is really the key to good health.
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3. Helps with weight loss
Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster. And, my experience is that when I start the day off right, it’s easier to make the best choices for myself the rest of the day.
4. Aids digestion
The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.
5. Acts as a gentle, natural diuretic
Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.
6. Clears skin
The vitamin C helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well.
7. Hydrates the lymph system
This cup of goodness helps start the day on a hydrated note, which helps prevent dehydration (obviously) and adrenal fatigue. When your body is dehydrated, or deeply dehydrated (adrenal fatigue), it can’t perform all of its proper functions, which leads to toxic buildup, stress, constipation, and the list goes on. Your adrenals happen to be two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and along with your thyroid, they create energy. They also secrete important hormones, including aldosterone. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by your adrenals that regulates water levels and the concentration of minerals, like sodium, in your body, helping you stay hydrated. Your adrenals are also responsible for regulating your stress response. So, the bottom line is that you really don’t want to mess with a deep state of dehydration!
Adopting just this one practice of drinking a cup of warm water with lemon in the morning for a month can radically alter your experience of the day. Don’t be surprised if you begin to view mornings in a new light.
Like I said, the recipe is really simple—a cup of warm (not hot) water and the juice from half a lemon.
This article was written by Ashley Pitman and published in MindBodyGreen on May 1, 2012. Photo by hasfurrychildren/Flickr.